Months ago, we released figures about the top 10 causes of death in Britain (which you can read here), but, as the Romans would say, prevention is better than cure. Here’s our top tips (some obvious, some bordering on bonkers!) to fight against the top 3 killers in Britain today:
1. Heart disease kills 170,000 every year:
- So, here’s the obvious one: keeping fit and healthy, maintaining a healthy weight (attending group weight loss meetings has also proven to be an excellent way to lose weight) and not eating too much junk.
- Here’s one for the ladies! Drinking one or two glasses of your favourite tipple in your fifties has shown to increase your chances of being heart-healthy in your seventies.
- Aspirin! Taking 75mg of aspirin daily (for five years) helps to cut the risk of heart disease by a third. Not only that, but American research from 1997 shows that you are more likely to survive a heart attack if you take a 325mg tablet when you start to feel the first signs of a heart attack.
- Beetroot juice dramatically lowers blood pressure (by widening the arteries), and as a result can reduce the risk of heart problems. You can buy beetroot juice from Holland and Barrett, and other health food shops.
2. Cancer kills 140,00 every year:
- Cancer comes in many forms, and is sometimes a result of genetics (or other uncontrollable factors), but generally keeping healthy is a good way to keep your chances as low as possible.
- The most recent research on cancer shows that beta blockers can help to slow the growth of skin and ovarian cancer. Beta blockers do come with their own risks, however, and are generally only prescribed to those with heart problems.
- Using the IUD as your chosen method of contraception helps to reduce the risk of cervical and womb cancer.
- As NSAIDs have been reported to triple the likelihood of kidney cancer, reducing your intake of them may help. Then again, paracetamol has been reported to double the risk of a rare blood cancer- it doesn’t seem like any pain relievers are safe!
- According to research from this summer, spending at least three hours a day in the sun can reduce the chances of breast cancer- just make sure you put some sunscreen on!
- Consuming large amounts of coffee is said to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
3. Influenza kills 70,000 every year:
- Coughs and sneezes spread diseases- if you’ve got any sort of cold or flu, ensure you cough/sneeze into a disposable tissue (it’s not worth thinking about how many germs are on a handkerchief!), bin it and alcohol wash your hands. Yes, it sounds paranoid, but it’s the best way to keep your germs to yourself.
- Take a sauna. Sounds more like a spa luxury than a health essential, but 1980′s research from Germany shows that people who steamed twice a week got 80% less colds than those who didn’t. A recent perspective is that the air in a sauna is too hot for most cold and flu viruses to survive.
- Don’t smoke- yes, it’s the most exasperating health tip around, but your lungs will thank you if you pack in the habit. Smoking zaps your ciliated epithelial cells which line your respiratory tract- without these, there is no way for bacteria and dust to get out of your lungs, so it stays where it is, causing chest infections and increasing your vulnerability to colds and flu.
- Don’t touch your mucus membranes. That’s anywhere on your body with an ‘exit’ (for example, your nose). Anything that’s living on your hands can get right in your body if you poke around with these areas- so no nail biting!
- If you’re more vulnerable to flu (if you’re over-65, suffer from an underlying health complication- such as diabetes or asthma, or are pregnant), then ensure you get your seasonal flu jab. Read the NHS’s page here.
- Influenza often leads the way for pneumonia to develop- so taking these precautions can help protect against that, too.
Written exclusively for The Life Dept | Live Longer | 22 September 2011.
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